Part 5) Adwin
Adwin wandered around the lower level of the soon to open SkadWind: Brokerage, Assessors, WeightHouse. He was waiting for Addath to finish the days paperwork. It was a lofty sort of business in his mind, it involved civil law, mathematics, information tracking, and a lot of weight; all new and fascinating to him. Outside of GreensBridge, most of the eastern freeholds lived by their local lords’ law or in the more rural cases the code of the first people, the OldWays. There were exceptions, most of the free-towns were essentially lawless and there was the Republic of Caffern to the southeast, near the Maldorn Mountains.
Roburns Trading Company had created the business in less than a month and spent a lot of money doing so. They had filled the various positions within the new company mostly with locals and other freeholders. Three law-speakers had been hired, fresh from the university. Guild certified assayers were hired, six of them, given significant signing bonuses to come work for SkadWind. Three shop keepers, three scribes, six household staff, two teamsters and four stablemen had been much easier to hire and with significantly less cost, they were paid well above average wages. There were a few Maldorn employees, a senior clerk to keep an eye on the place when the two of them were out doing business, as well their security chief and most of the security team, many of them being ex-air force.
The property itself was situated to the southwest of the Administrative Tower and it was a couple streets in from the traffic junction. Situated on the edge of a middle-class residential area at the corners of Weavers Avenue and Tailors Street. As with most of the buildings in the area, theirs was designed to have a business at ground level and a residence above. Made of stone, with wooden frames for the doors and glass windows. It was a three story building, with a sizable stables and carriage house. The back courtyard was accessible from a gated side entrance, by which was a sheltered hitching post only a few paces from the main structures side door. The courtyard had a well and it was large enough to have a small kitchen garden and outdoor cooking area by the back door. The barn and carriage house were joined together by a work room and woodshed, built along the property walls at the back.
Scales and measures, of different sorts had been bought from guild certified craftsmen, one entire room of the building was dedicated to this equipment specifically. It was the room with the best natural light. Then there had been the renovations, furniture, two large safes, business supplies as well the household supplies.
A considerable deposit with the city council would allow them to lend and exchange money. There had been various registration and certification fees with the guilds and again with the city council. Also, the company, through various negotiations and social events conducted by the local head of operations for the Roburns Trading Company, sometimes with the requirement of Addath or Adwin to attend, with certain members of the city council who received generous contributions or gifts suitable to their interests. Which was just a fancy way of saying they were bribed.
Thankfully Adwin had not been required to say much the three times he had been in attendance to certain special functions, but he had become acquainted with what the upper class of GreensBridge considered good manners. Then through the city’s administrative maze he had wandered, it was a barren and confusing wasteland of forms and petty officials. Thankfully, all the extra weight the company was throwing around expedited most of the paperwork.
Strangely, Adwin of Williks Hold was the owner and operator of SkadWind. Addath was a hired consultant, in his employ. However, he was under no illusions regarding who was boss. He would be lost without Addath in this venture. So far she had spent a lot of time coaching him how to behave around certain types of people and how to know what was expected. Conversely they were also creating dialogue structures and approach plans when it came to dealing with the various business owners that they would be negotiating with in the new year. It all seemed a bit shifty.
His daily wardrobe had taken a significant step up. Though, thankfully, he had avoided having to dress in what was considered fashionable due to the fact he was supposed to maintain a character that would appeal to the common folk, someone they could relate with. He would just be wearing nicer materials, with a clean outfit for each day of eight, and it was all a business expense.
He was very happy with his Yule outfit, which he had paid for himself, from the same tailor that had made his new work clothes. The outfit had been delivered yesterday, green with red and yellow needle work, tunic and breeches. We had also found a knitted stocking hat at the North Market, with a few small silver bells sewn into the dangling end. Wearing new, well fitted clothing was a novel experience for Adwin.
Once again his perception of money had changed. He was pretty sure that setting up SkadWind had been more expensive than what Lord Willik’s annual operating cost for his entire holding would have been. Not that he knew for sure, but at a guess he did not think Willik’s annual costs exceeded three gold bars, five at most. He knew that Roburns Trading Company had spent just shy of thirteen gold bars, plus the six bar deposit with the city council. The weirdest thing, as far as he was concerned, was that Roburns Trading Company had spent that much weight in an effort to be able to spend two to three times as much acquiring a couple handfuls of properties so that they could spend more money to modernize the local infrastructure, in an effort to make more money. It seemed ridiculous when he thought about it.
Even though he had spent much of the last few days working alone with Addath, he had not yet brought up his personal ongoing issues with the Fingures, nor had he been brave enough to ask her to spend Yule with he and his friends. He knew that she had no plans for the next few days, nor family in the area. He was hesitant, likely because he was unsure what Tipper might do her.
“You ready?” Addath stood in the door to the hospitality room, oddly she wore an open long coat and had a wide brimmed hat in hand.
“Yeah, just let me grab my stuff.” He headed up to his room.
She called after him, “I told Heller to get the carriage ready and out front, I’ll wait on the step.”
Adwin gathered his poncho and the three pouches of weight he needed, he paused to consider whether or not to bring a weapon along. Though, he realized his staff was too long and he had not yet bothered to find a replacement for the short sword he lost. There was Tipper’s Yule gift, a dwarven made throwing hatchet, there was also the stash of treasures from the Fingures heist he and Mokha had pulled off. Neither options seemed right, so he shut and locked his door and then headed down to join Addath.
She was out on the front step, smoking a cigarillo. The carriage was waiting. Adwin threw his cloak around his shoulders, then waited as she smoked. He noted that her fingers were ink stained. It was overcast and very dark tonight with a bit of light snow falling. Pools of light stood out, either lamps or orbs for the most part, but many of the people were out going house to house during the early days of the Yuletide, they usually carried candles and were often merrymaking and singing as they travelled.
Addath regarded him with her usual calm appraisal, then asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Well, it’s the only place I’ll be able to find what I’m looking for at this point.”
“It seems like a lot of effort to acquire a gift for someone.”
“Share a measure of your wealth, first with friends, if you’d profit most.”
“An old saying in the freeholds.”
“That’s a new one to me.” She puffed on the tobacco.
Oddly Adwin was beginning to enjoy the smell of her cigarillos. A large, drunken, group of twenty to thirty people passed by, many wore masks and all had on some sort of festive garb. They heckled the teamster, Heller, and the footman as they went past, many stopping to offer song, drink or food. Some of the locals were a bit put off by the stoic responses Heller was giving them and issued dire warnings of the coming hunt. They went so far as to suggest foreign visitors would be well advised to find shelter by the morrow and to hide from the hunt during the darkest days.
Addath finished smoking and sent the small stub spinning into a nearby snowbank, “So, Adwin.”
“I was thinking it might be time for the two of us to celebrate our recent accomplishments. I was wondering if I could take you out to a tavern after our little adventure this evening?”
“Well, thank you, but I actually had been meaning to ask you to join me and my friends for Yule.”
She seemed a bit hesitant, “I’m not sure about all this weird stuff you folks do during the winter solstice.”
“Well, none of us have family here, so we decided to each invite another person and spend the Yule together at the Greensly Manor.”
“As in Lord Greensly?”
“Yes, but he and most of his household are elsewhere for the season.”
“Well now. You seem to have some interesting friends Adwin.”
He shrugged, “I think so.”
“I’d have to admit that seeing the inside of the Greensly Manor is enticing. I have to know though, are you inviting me to an orgy?”
Adwin blushed, enough so that he felt the heat rising in his cheeks and ears, “Well, I mean, um. Not specifically, but it is the three darkest nights of the year. So there’s usually feasting, drinking and most other forms of carousing. So, um, I can’t really say there will be an orgy, but knowing my companions I’d say it’s likely.”
She laughed and might have blushed as well, though in the lamp light it was hard to tell, “Alright, since we’re heading to the Tannican District, I’m going to want to stop at the House of Rashammon and pick up some treats.”
“That’s great. I need to secure some more liquid assets.”
They walked to the carriage and the footman opened the door for them. She thanked him and informed Mr Heller they were heading to the company docks. It took a bit of extra time getting to the North Dock District as many of the streets had roving bands of carousers. When they arrived Addath and he, escorted by Mr Heller, boarded a small row boat. Thanks to Addath they were able to use the prearranged late departure of one of the company’s barges as cover to move out from the docks and southward down the west side of the island. The two company men at the oars pushed off from the side of the barge and with careful strokes guided them to the north docks on the island of the Tannican District.